Center Stage: What's hot in the Midlands

The family is in town and maybe driving you crazy. What is there to do - besides shopping - that will get you out of the house? Here are some things to help quell the cabin fever of the season.

"Southern Satire: The Illustrated World of Jak Smyrl"

The exhibition, which opened in August at McKissick Museum, focuses on illustrator and artist Jak Smyrl, who worked for The State from 1949 to 1986. During his career, Smyrl created caricatures of leading political and community figures, illustrations for magazine covers and portraits for The State and The Columbia Record, the former local afternoon newspaper.

The show runs through Jan. 23. McKissick Museum is at 816 Bull St. and is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit or call (803) 777-7251.

"Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race"

"Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," at the State Museum, examines the operation to make a nation of superior Aryan people in Nazi Germany, and Adolf Hitler's concept of racial hygiene, commonly referred to as eugenics.

"Deadly Medicine" begins with the emergence of eugenics in the late 19th century, and it traces the concept from inception to implementation by the Nazis. It led to the murder of millions of people.

The museum at 301 Gervais St. is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The exhibit runs through Feb. 14. $3 to $7; (803)898-4921 or http://www.southcarolinastatemuseum. org

"Urban Archaeology in Columbia, South Carolina"

What is Columbia made of? What has been left behind by the people who built and once inhabited this city? "Urban Archaeology in Columbia, South Carolina" sifts through the material remains. The exhibit at McKissick Museum opened Aug. 15 and runs through Jan. 16.

"Larry Clark: Tulsa"

"Larry Clark: Tulsa," which opened in October at the Columbia Museum of Art, shows figures in various forms of debauchery and, subsequently, decay.

The 20 photographs from Clark's 1971 book, "Tulsa," document the lives of Clark's friends in Oklahoma in the 1960s. First you see the paraphernalia of drug use. Then in the background you see American flags and Jesus figurines, signs of Americana.

The contrast is unmistakable.

"It's the American dream battered," said Todd Herman, the museum's chief curator. "He followed the same characters for just under 10 years. You see how they evolve or sometimes devolve."

Clark, who was also an addict, had a prescient eye. His lens exposed the effects of the drug culture on suburban youth, photographing kids with crew cuts and wearing button-down shirts and khaki pants as addicts.

What may have been viewed as an anomaly has become a problem. Tune in for an episode of A&E's "Intervention" or read about the proliferation of meth abuse.

Clark was there first 40 years ago.

The exhibition runs through Feb. 7. The museum at Main and Hampton streets is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $5 to $10; or (803) 799-2810

"Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Monsters"

"Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Monsters" is an exhibit of monstrous proportions: 6,500 square feet of prehistoric activity.

Some highlights: A "dig a fossil" pit; a full-size Tyrannosaurus rex skull cast; and the leg bone of a deinosuchus, a 50-foot-long crocodile.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 28.

"Ansel Adams: Masterworks From the Collection of the Turtle Bay Exploration Center, Redding, CA"

"Ansel Adams: Masterworks" at the Columbia Museum of Art is a masterful exhibition. His photographs of mountainous regions, valleys, forests and other uninhabited lands are majestic, breathtaking. Adams had a keen and evocative eye, an understanding of how to create narratives through still life. He also was a master technician - in the field and darkroom - as the detailed sharpness in his gelatin prints revealed delicate subtleties.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 17.

"The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States"

"The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States" represents 50 works given to the museum.

"They decided that they wanted to leave a broader legacy," Karen Brosius, the museum's executive director, said about the Vogels. "They wanted to do something for the nation." Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a postal clerk and a librarian, respectively, collected more than 4,000 pieces of artwork in their small New York apartment.

The 34 works on paper, 10 paintings and six sculptures of minimal and conceptual art will add nuance to the museum's permanent collection. The Vogels donated the art to 50 institutions nationwide through a joint initiative with the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Columbia Museum of Art was the recipient representing South Carolina.

For those who frequent the art museum, the collection will offer something different to view.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 17.

"From Here to Timbuktu: A Journey through West Africa"

The exhibit at EdVenture Children's Museum takes people on a journey through West Africa's geographic regions. It's a world children - and adults - will want to explore.

The exhibit closes Jan. 2. EdVenture, at 211 Gervais St., is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $8.50 to $9.50; or (803) 779-3100

The Lights Before Christmas

The Lights Before Christmas (maybe now we should say "after" Christmas) are turned on for viewing at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. For the 22nd year, families can enjoy what has become a holiday tradition in town. You'll be able to sip hot chocolate and roast marshmallows.

New this year: Holiday Card Walk, which features larger-than-life holiday cards created by local schools; and a candy cane garden, where eight towering candy canes will come to life.

Guests will be able to walk through the zoo and marvel at nearly 1 million lights and many hand-crafted and animated images. The lights will be on from 6 to 9 p.m. through Jan. 3, with closings Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. The zoo is at 500 Wildlife Parkway. $6 to $8; (803) 779-8717 or

Holiday Lights on the River

Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park will also feature more than 1 million lights on more than 300 themed and animated light displays on the park's two-mile route. New this year: the Winter Wonder Ride. You'll get to tube downhill without the snow.

Holiday Lights, which runs through Thursday, is open 6 to 10 p.m. $10 per car, $15 for passenger vans and $35 for buses. (803) 772-1228 or

- Otis R. Taylor Jr.